Freshfields tops global advisers on M&A deals

Elizabeth Fournier
MAGIC circle law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has come top of a list of global advisers on M&A deals for the first quarter of 2011, bolstered by its leading role advising Xstrata on a takeover bid by commodities giant Glencore.

In the three months to 31 March, Freshfields advised on 39 deals worth a total of $84.7bn (£53.2bn), according to Mergermarket, of which a huge $53.5bn is attributable to the Glencore takeover that was announced in early February.

It also helped UPS on its $6.8bn takeover of TNT Express in March.

Linklaters ­– which is working for Glencore on the Xstrata deal – came in second with deals worth $77.6bn over the quarter. Though the firm advised on more individual transactions than Freshfields, with a total of 48, the lower combined value meant it lagged behind its rival.

The rankings show how much a single high-value deal can influence quarterly rankings, with last year’s top adviser Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz dropping out of the top 20 completely, and second place Simpson Thacher falling to 20th.

On the flipside King & Wood Mallesons shot up to third place from 125th this time last year, by winning roles advising on two separate Glencore deals – for the bidder on its acquisition of Canadian grain handler Viterra, but also for Xstrata as the target.

In the UK domestic rankings by value, which do not include Glencore/Xstrata, Freshfields and Linklaters feature further down the list in fifth and 10th places respectively.

The top spot was instead taken by fellow magic circle firm Clifford Chance, which has worked on a total of 16 deals worth $12.8bn since the start of the year.

American firm Sullivan & Cromwell took second place in the UK – up from 10th last year – and also led the US rankings, where it booked $32bn worth of deals.

Mergermarket also released its PR adviser tables for the first quarter, which showed RLM Finsbury climbing eight positions from its 2011 ranking to dominate the global table by deal value. Brunswick moved up one spot to take first place in the global PR league tables by deal count, having worked on 41 transactions.

The UK list saw Brunswick pip RLM Finsbury to the post on both deal count and value, with Powerscourt, Sard Verbinnen and FTI Consulting completing the top five.